Veteran lawmaker says region fared well in leadership assignments
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Northeast Tennessee gained some clout in the state senate this week when Lt. Gov. Randy McNally tapped Bristol Republican Jon Lundberg to serve as deputy speaker.
Lundberg said the role carries important duties when it comes to liaisoning between the senate and both national and local governments.
The deputy “represents the state when they go out at various functions across the nation,” Lundberg said. “That’s important.”
The deputy presides over the senate when the lieutenant governor has other obligations and sits in on leadership meetings with Gov. Bill Lee “and putting together the governor’s package, his priorities legislatively.
“You’re involved in a lot not just while we’re in session but frankly the rest of the year as well, and I look forward to that.”
Lundberg was also named first vice chair of the senate education committee and has seats on the powerful finance, ways and means committee and the judiciary committee.
He said his appointments are part of an overall trend that saw members of the Northeast Tennessee delegation, including three freshmen lawmakers, land influential committee posts.
One of them is Scotty Campbell, who represents the 3rd District in the House. Campbell served one term 10 years ago but declined to run for re-election. Back in the seat formerly held by Timothy Hill, who made an unsuccessful bid for retiring U.S. Congressman Phil Roe’s First District seat, Campbell will serve on the house’s finance, ways and means committee and the appropriations subcommittee.
Taxpayers here at home want taxes to remain as low as possible… they also expect fiscal accountability and transparency. This will allow us a seat at the table,” Campbell, who was also appointed to the transportation committee, said.
“Northeast Tennessee fared very well in the legislature,” Lundberg said of the committee selection process. “In addition to having great representatives and senators you have folks in really strong leadership positions.”
Lundberg mentioned the example of former state rep Jason Mumpower of Bristol, who was elected Wednesday as comptroller of Tennessee’s treasury.
“They evaluate and take a look at where all the money is being spent across the state and he is one of three constitutional officers we have — the comptroller, the treasurer and our secretary of state — really important position.”
Lundberg also mentioned Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and his repeat appointment as chairman of the senate’s health committee.
“We have some really potent leadership spots being taken in Northeast Tennessee and we should be proud. And that gives us, frankly, a louder voice in Nashville.”
The good news comes during a critical year as the general assembly will consider important school legislation during a special session next week and grapple with how to confront many issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you talk about Main Street, how do we take care of whether it’s small businesses or large businesses, because we want to get people back to work,” Lundberg said. “That’s important, and I think people want to go back to work.”
He said he thinks teachers will be pleased with the outcome of the special session.
“Revenues have come in much stronger than we anticiapted when we left early last year and that’s a good thing. And we want to compensate teachers for what they’ve done and what they’ve been through and frankly what they’re going to continue doing throughout 2021.”
Lundberg said the legislature will be an important second set of eyes on the Lee administration’s proposals. He expressed support for an approach to standardized testing that includes it, but holds teachers harmless in terms of results impacting their evaluations.
“We need to know who’s doing really well and why are they doing well so we can replicate that across the state,” Lundberg said. “At the same time we shouldn’t penalize teachers because they’ve got students who can’t attend…”
Lundberg said the state should learn many lessons in the year after the “year of Zoom,” from how courts operate to schools and internet access.
“The pandemic has shown us a great need to put broadband in and make certain it’s successful across the state including our rural areas because it’s not that they don’t have computers, they just can’t get online and that is unfair.”